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Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday

Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session.

Capital News Service

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By Sam Fowler

Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session.

Juneteenth marks the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, which was the last state to abolish slavery. The companion bills were introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation on Oct. 13.

“Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States,” Northam said during a press conference held that day. “It’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginia, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”

Del. Joshua Cole, D-Fredericksburg, introduced a bill in the legislative session earlier this year to recognize Juneteenth, but the proposal didn’t advance.

Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday in June during a press conference that included musician and Virginia-native Pharrell Williams. Northam signed an executive order that gave executive branch employees and state colleges the day off. Some Virginia localities, such as Richmond and several places in Hampton Roads, also observed the holiday this year.

“I think it is overdue that the Commonwealth formally honor and celebrate the emancipation and end of slavery,” Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, a co-patron of the bill, said in an email. “It was a step towards fulfilling the promise of equality contained in our founding documents.”

The Elegba Folklore Society, a Richmond-based organization focused on promoting African culture, history and arts, is one of the groups that has been celebrating the holiday for decades. The celebration usually is a three-day weekend event that looks at the history of Juneteenth. A torch-lit walk down the Trail of Enslaved Africans in Richmond is also held, said Janine Bell, the society’s president and artistic director.

“We take time to just say thank you to our ancestors, their contributions, their forfeitures, their trials and tribulations,” Bell said. “We invite people to Richmond’s African burial ground so that we can go there and pay homage from a perspective of African spirituality.”

Juneteenth should not be used as another holiday to look for bargains in stores, Bell said. It should be a time for reflection about liberty, as well as for celebration and family strengthening.

“It’s a time for optimism and joy,” Bell said.

The Elegba Folklore Society broadcasted its Juneteenth event online this year due to the coronavirus. Although there were still around 7,000 views, Bell said that it is usually much larger and has international influence.

Cries for police reform and social justice continue to increase, Bell said. More attention is being drawn to the racial disparities across America. With this, people have been changing their priorities concerning issues such as discrimination.

“This was a step towards equity,” Bell said about the bill. “A symbolic step, but a step nonetheless.”

State workers will be off during Juneteenth. If the job requires individuals to come in to work, then they will be compensated with overtime or extra pay, said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, a patron for the bill.

The General Assembly wrapped up the agenda last week for the special session that began Aug. 18. Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice reform and issues related to COVID-19.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Downtown

Children’s Hospital Foundation launches $100 million capital campaign for new “Wonder Tower”

Last week, the Children’s Hospital Foundation launched the public fundraising phase of its Built for Kids capital campaign, with a goal of raising $100 million from the community to support the construction of a new inpatient and emergency tower at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, affectionately known as the Wonder Tower.

RVAHub Staff

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Last week, the Children’s Hospital Foundation launched the public fundraising phase of its Built for Kids capital campaign, with a goal of raising $100 million from the community to support the construction of a new inpatient and emergency tower at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, affectionately known as the Wonder Tower.

As part of the public fundraising launch, Children’s Hospital Foundation launched a creative campaign throughout Central Virginia designed to raise awareness of the new hospital and inspire donations from the community, corporations and individuals.

Once complete, the Wonder Tower will be the culmination of years of planning to bring world-class pediatric facilities to Central Virginia. Located in downtown Richmond, the 16-story tower will be home to CHoR’s Level 1 pediatric trauma center, emergency room, inpatient units, new operating rooms, increased imaging capacity and family amenities —all in an environment created just for kids and families. The facility features free, convenient parking, all private patient rooms and kid-friendly design and architectural elements. Connected to CHoR’s outpatient Children’s Pavilion, the facility completes an entire city block dedicated to caring for kids.

“A hospital environment just for kids and families has been our community’s vision for many years, and it’s becoming a reality as we complete an entire city block dedicated to pediatric care – all under one roof,”  said Elias Neujahr, CEO of CHoR. “The Wonder Tower will be a place where every child in our growing community has a chance to heal, recover and celebrate their super powers. It will be a place where our nationally ranked care, innovative research and top-tier education programs come together to provide the best patient experience for kids and families.”

Reflecting the wonder of the new hospital, the creative campaign was concepted and designed by Markham & Stein, a Miami-based agency, along with Richmond-based Brand Federation, which handled research, brand and messaging work. At this stage, the “Built for Kids” campaign visually highlights the look of the new facility, while the messaging emphasizes the need to “defend childhood” and protect the most vulnerable among us – children.

“People understand and connect with the idea that childhood must be protected as it’s critical to a child’s development and vital for so many reasons,” said Lauren Moore, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Foundation. “The Wonder Tower is a place where children will receive world-class medical care close to home, and while they’re there, we’ll do everything possible to keep the spirit of childhood all around them.”

Children’s Hospital Foundation is currently running a dollar-for-dollar matching campaign to encourage the community to maximize their impact by 100% by taking advantage of the Foundation match commitment. To date, the Foundation has raised more than one-third of its $100 million fundraising goal.

CHoR is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary year treating all children in need of care. In June 2019, CHoR broke ground on the new inpatient tower adjacent to the current outpatient Children’s Pavilion, which when completed will create a free-standing, full-service children’s hospital on East Marshall Street between 10th and 11th streets. Construction is expected to be complete in 2023.

To follow along with the progress of the Built for Kids capital campaign or give to the Wonder Tower, visit builtforkids.org.

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Business

The Richmond Night Market launches holiday villages across the city to celebrate the season

The Holiday Villages are a multicultural holiday market shopping experience that will feature local goods, art, food, music, and the best of Richmond culture.

RVAHub Staff

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The Richmond Night Market, in partnership with the City of Richmond, Office of Economic Development, Flying Squirrels, Brok Productions, and media partner, Richmond Magazine, announced it will open five Holiday Villages across the city this holiday season to celebrate the Richmond community and its resilience. The open-air markets will be open every Saturday from 12 to 7 p.m. beginning November 28 to December 19. Vendors are encouraged to apply.

“Richmond is an amazing city and we want to make sure folks don’t forget about that, especially during these challenging times,” said Melody Joy Short, co-founder of Richmond Night Market. “We are a village and it’s important that we continue to support each other, especially our artisan and small business community. Let’s spread some holiday cheer, celebrate each other, and do our part to uplift the local economy.”

The Holiday Villages are a multicultural holiday market shopping experience that will feature local goods, art, food, music, and the best of Richmond culture. The open-air markets are spread across several locations to encourage social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19, with strict COVID-19 measures in place supported by the City of Richmond. Plus, attendees will have an opportunity to explore different neighborhoods including Manchester, Scott’s Addition, the Arts District, Jackson Ward, and Shockoe Bottom.

“Every neighborhood has its own vibe and flavor,” said Adrienne Cole Johnson, co-founder of Richmond Night Market. “The food, shopping experience, retailers and services are all unique to each part of the city and we want to recreate that with our Holiday Villages. We want people to shop and buy local, as well as showcase all of the gems in the city.”

“Artists and small businesses across the board should sign up to become a vendor,” Cole Johnson added.

The Richmond Night Market launched in April 2019 as a monthly gathering at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market in Shockoe Bottom as a way for locals and tourists to shop for clothing, jewelry, visual art, organic products and even artisanal food. Event organizers shifted their approach during the pandemic, launching a successful virtual experience that allowed patrons to engage with independent, small businesses in a new way on social media.

“We see our Holiday Villages as an extension of what we’ve been doing all year,” said Short. “Most, if not all businesses, have experienced some disruption and we want to ensure there is true recovery. Our efforts have increased sales by 40 percent for many artists. With the holiday season around the corner, our aim is to keep creating these opportunities to generate revenue and uplift this community.”

Patrons will be able to start their shopping experience on Small Business Saturday (November 28) and explore all of the Holiday Villages through Saturday, December 19. Those interested in becoming a vendor can apply at www.richmondnightmarketva.com.

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Community

New Law Prohibits Open Carry, Law not Enforced Last Night when Boogaloo Boys Show Up Last Night

To amend and reordain City Code 19-334.1, which prohibits the carrying of firearms within certain places, to modify the nature and extent of the firearms and prohibited places subject to inclusion as permitted by Va. Code 15.2-915.

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Infowars’ Owen Shroyer made a quick stop in Richmond last night so that Trump supporters, militia and boogaloo activists, and BLM counter-protesters could wave their various flags. The police were on hand to keep the two sides separate and @FordFisher on Twitter has a thread of how the evening went down.

Interestingly a new ordinance prohibiting open carry at protests did not seem to be enforced. The law was passed in September and prohibits the carrying of guns at public events such as protests, whether the gatherings are permitted or not, and also will apply to nearby public areas such as sidewalks and roadways. Violators could face a class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 dollars.

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